Sunday, March 2, 2014
Владимир Владимирович Путин 「弗拉基米爾·弗拉基米羅維奇·普京」。他的名字難讀，心理更難讀。普京是活在民主世界中的獨裁者，沒有任何一個人可以阻止他，而世界上可能再也不會出現像他，名字和狂妄的志向那麼一致的人物了（Владимир：掌握世界）。同時也能說，俄國可能再也不會經歷現今普京主義之下，被稱為「接力民主」的公然、無遮蓋專制制度，因為『普京不是永生的。』
Post-edit: Translation added for English-speakers.
I don’t feel ashamed that I’m from Russia, I feel ashamed that they are from Russia.
Why in the process of learning Russian did I fall in love with Russia? Because when learning a language, you can’t avoid learning everything behind the language: culture, traditions, geography and customs, etc. When you open your heart and let the language and literature you’re learning become a part of you, only then are you truly learning. Otherwise you’re just studying idioms and vocabulary (I’m not telling you not to study idioms and vocabulary, OK? Please study hard).
Whenever I’m asked why I want to work in Russia in the future or why I even like Russia, I’m often not sure how to respond. But why should I have to respond to these questions? Why aren’t I allowed to like Russia?
“Russians are cold and heartless!” – compared to whom? I would say they’re candid and honest.
“Russians are all corrupt!” – Yeah? Even the cleaning lady in the dorms? That’s terrible.
“Russians all love to drink, and they hate all the westerners!” – Yes! And don’t forget the easterners, southerners and northerners!
“But…Putin!” – Mmm, Putin.
Владимир Владимирович Путин (Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin). His name is hard to read, and his psyche even harder. Putin is an autocrat living in a democratic world. No one man can stop him, and perhaps the world will never see the likes of him again, someone whose name and ludicrous ambitions stand as one (Владимир: possess the world). At the same time, it could be said that Russia may not witness the ‘Tandemocracy’ under Putinism we see today ever again; the blatant, in-your-face autocracy, because “Putin won’t live forever.”
While watching the biased broadcast on Russia Today last night, I bore witness to the Russian Federation Council gradually approving President Putin’s ‘request’ to mobilise troops into Crimea. My heart started to beat faster. I became nervous and worried. What worried me the most was not just the prospect of more lives lost in Ukraine (the probability of which is very high). When the State Council passed the vote by a ratio of 90:10, I worried most about the forthcoming global (especially from Taiwan) criticism heading Russia’s way.
I’m not talking about the criticism towards Putin. I believe he deserves the criticism (most of it at least) he receives. Putin is a tyrant in a suit, and the biggest mistake is thinking that he acts on behalf of Russia and her peoples. He acts on behalf of himself – ‘Tandemocracy’, changing the constitution, altering the legal presidential term and ignoring international law, etc. are all proof of that.
Here I’m talking specifically about criticism brought about by a select few (Putin) within a country, and especially when directed towards the nation and its peoples as a whole. For instance, before the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics began, Western media criticism towards Russia; criticising corrupt officials, criticising Olympic venues, criticising security measures and criticising anti-LGBT laws, etc. These are all valid points which deserve criticism, but when reporters and athletes entered Olympic Village searching for, expecting, mishaps and mistakes from Russia, that wasn’t right. They completely misplaced their focus and had lost the spirit of the Games. CNN’s interview report a week prior to the opening ceremony said: “If it goes off without a tragedy, that’ll be amazing.” Take a second to think about how Russians, home and abroad, must have felt seeing this report as they proudly anticipated the Games.
Germans call this Schadenfreude – pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune. There’s a very fine line between ‘fair criticism’ and ‘Schadenfreude’. Can you tell the difference? Because sometimes not even I can.
Another example is the friction between Taiwan and South Korea because of tae kwon do. Trust me, I love football, so I understand what it means to have ‘passion for the game’. I also understand the ‘fair play’ principle behind the sport. But deciding to hate a country and even not buy anything imported from said country just because of the events of a sports match…my friends, I feel ashamed for you.
Why do I worry particularly about criticism from Taiwan? Simple: I’m Taiwanese. My hope is for Taiwan to maintain a decent international image and continue to provide its peoples and foreigners with a positive impression. Taiwan might not have strong international recognition, but our lives are perhaps made easier because of that (Taiwan’s agreement with Schengen nations, for instance), and what’s more is that many foreigners actually have a fantastic impression of Taiwan. Typing the last sentence made me feel a little proud.
Back to Russia. You all need to know that many people in Russia are also not content with Putin (though his supporters are various). These same people might have supported him ten plus years ago in a ‘new Russia’, he having lead them out of almost 70 years of Communism. Today their attitudes have changed. These people are today rallying on the streets of Moscow, signs raised, voicing the shame that Putin’s decision has brought upon them. What these people need is not our criticism (they know wrongdoings have been committed), but our sympathy and support.
Russia isn’t perfect, but I haven’t been to a ‘perfect’ country to this day. They have their flaws and so do we. To criticise is the right of every citizen in a democracy, but discriminating, forming biases and publicly (or privately) condemning a nation’s people because of the wrongdoings of their government (or individual) is wrong and should not be tolerated.
The decision made on the eve of March 1 by Putin and the Federation Council is one that I will never, under any circumstances, support. Furthermore, the love-hate relationship which grips Russia and her peoples is one that no outsider can understand, and there are some decisions which even the most patriotic of people cannot defend.
Putin is not Russia; Russia is not Putin: we cannot and should not see them as equals. JSF.